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Did someone say, ‘Big Brother’?

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November 6, 2018

I may have told you before about my less than confident relationship with technology (see Penny Lane blog 20 July 2018 – It’s all about the coffee). I’m a sceptic about how much we know and understand about our personal security and how technology impedes on our privacy. This is probably one of the reasons that I haven’t really taken to the technology that I’m about to post this article on – irony!

‘Sweetheart don’t be paranoid’ my husband says to me. But it appears that I’m not the only person who has concerns about the corporate and government invasion of our privacy.

I was reading an article by Greg Callaghan on 3 November 2018 from the Good Weekend titled ‘Are our phones listening in?’ The article raises the concern about tracked searches on the internet where companies such as Vizio in the US were fined for tracking viewing habits of consumers and selling the data.

The article also recalls the story that conversations around Samsung smart TVs could be “…transmitted to a third party”. Okay. It sounds farfetched, but what if it was true? I think the idea troubles most not because they have anything to hide, but my personal conversations or interactions with myself and/or another should not be invaded by an uninvited guest.

If you’re interested, you can look into an article by Jessica Haynes from the ANC on 8 March 2017 about the different way that technology is spying on us: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-08/ways-your-technology-is-already-spying-on-you/8334960

Some of you may have read ‘1984’, the novel written by George Orwell in 1949 in which he creates a dystopian society which has been subjected to ever-present government surveillance and propaganda.

For those who haven’t, the inhabitants of this state, Oceania, lived in a world where two-way screens and private microphones (by which they could be constantly listened to and observed), were fitted into the home, in the workplace and public spaces.

While Orwell had written about a totalitarian state, the idea and type of surveillance that he spoke of is becoming increasingly closer to reality in our society.

So, does the technology exist for companies and government bodies to break into phone and other devices?

I’m probably the last person to ask about the technical realties of the reply, but Callaghan quotes Nigel Phair, director of UNSW Canberra Cyber:

“The problem is we don’t know if our phones could be listening in to us. …The tech giants have already commercialised GPS and photos. Voice is the new frontier.”

I’ll bet there are others reading this article who will agree?

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